Starfield:Into the Starfield - The Endless Pursuit

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Into the Starfield - The Endless Pursuit was the first episode in a series of documentary episodes on the development of Starfield. The episode touches into the philosophy and major goals Bethesda has with Starfield, and discusses how their team has come together over the years. The original video can be viewed here.


Todd Howard: I think the one thing people underestimate about video games is that people think it's just playtime. But, I always say that the one thing video games can give you that nothing else in entertainment can is that feeling of pride. Right? "Look what I did". And... even though we want to make a game that is very big and is very long, you can play for all of those years, it's all the paths you didn't take...that make it special to you. That you feel like when you finish that quest, that you feel that you accomplished something that week. The people who love video games can always say, "What'd you do today?"

"I saved the world."

Matt Carafano: We've been incredibly lucky to work with such a tight group of people for so long. Like, we're all friends. It's like a second family in a way. We all sort of know or "get" what a Bethesda game is.

Angela Browder: There's definitely this core group who's been working together for decades and knows how to make a BGS game. And then there's this new generation of game developers who are coming in and working at BGS who grew up on those games those people made. For some people those are the games that got them to go into the industry in the first place. And what I love about that is that those people come in and they love the worlds too. And they want to stay true to those worlds that they grew up on. And so, we're still able to maintain what a BGS game is, but continue to evolve.

Todd: I think we underestimate how long people are going to play it. You look at Skyrim, we're sitting here ten years later and it keeps having this life and it changes how you want to create something.

Matt: Yeah, I feel like our games sort of have two lives. We create this game, and we put everything we can possibly put into it, and tell the stories we want to tell, and build this world that's sort of a set up that when we hand it off to the players, they play it but then they take it and make it their own. They tell their own stories and then they make their own stories with our tools.

Angela: I think it's the hallmark of our games that you play it and my experience is going to be different than yours. I'm going to come in and tell you a funny story about something that happened to me and you may never have seen that because just a confluence of events. And I think that helps with the longevity and it helps with that feeling of community in a lot of ways.

Todd: It is a world that you get transported to, that you can really make your own. And that's where, for me, the magic is. To do it for two decades, or close to that, for so much of our group there's a big trust there that we know how we solve certain things together. We were doing Morrowind and looking at what we might do after that and beyond that, and we had a list of what are the other types of worlds we want to go to. And obviously Fallout was at the top of the list. If we could do that. And that magically, luckily came true for us. And right behind that was science fiction. Going to space I think there's a magic in just defying gravity and taking off from a planet. Like that's extremely difficult human endeavor.

Matt: A lot of our games are about exploration and that's sort of like, that's the ultimate exploration is what's out there. What's past Earth, right? So. It's incredibly exciting for us to work on something like that. I feel like every time we come to a game, we're starting fresh. We're saying, "Ok, we just did that one. That's over. How do we make it better in every way?" It's got a more realistic, science-based backing to it. Whereas Skyrim is sort of an epic fantasy, this is a more grounded game and a grounded setting about exploration. So I think that gives us a different take on how we make everything. So that's sort of the thing you latch onto when we're making new areas, making environments, making characters.

Todd: The mechanics of the world are entirely different. But there are similarities. And I think that those are things we like. We like playing first person. We like having all the coffee cups. We like being able to touch everything. Those moments make the whole thing believable. Being able to watch the sun set and nighttime come, and just sit there and watch the world go by. Seems like it's not gameplay. But it is vital to how you feel through the rest of it.

Angela: I also think that because it's based in a more realistic atmosphere you have a lot of people on our team who are super into certain things, like robotics, or engineering. And they can use this lifetime of knowledge they have gathered and then use it in their work.

Matt: Everyone comes from these different areas and brings stuff to the game that can make it in. It all matters, you know? From the rocks, to the clutter, to what the space suits look like. It's based on people's experience and sort of learning about how things work in the world and trying to apply it in a way that's believable for this universe.

Todd: It starts feeling so real to us. You're saying we do all that stuff, but then concepting like everything they eat or the toys the children play with. Or, what are their bedtime stories? What is their art? What is their history? What is their entertainment? It is a universe, not just a game.

Angela: There has to be an emotional trigger that occurs. And I think as time has gone on we're able to paint an even better picture that triggers that emotional thing.

Todd: We always have that "step out" moment into the world so to say. The technology has changed. We've all changed. So our expectations when loading up a game like, "Ok, I'm going to step out and there's going to be this moment". Us being able to do that and have it feel new every generation, every game is something that is really special about what we do. I like to say that Starfield has two "step out" moments. It's cryptic. Our process of making it is a journey for us that is very very rewarding. And coming to Starfield everybody's starting over and saying "what would you want to do? What does going to space mean to you?" And everybody comes back with the same one.

"I want to see what's out there."